References are important. What you want to achieve with references is to have other people make comments about you that reinforce the positive points you've already made about yourself. Having someone else verify how good you are makes the case for hiring you even stronger.
Tips for Picking Good References
- Select people who will say good things about you.
- Select people who can be contacted by phone during the day.
- Get permission from people before using their name as a reference.
- Coach your references in what to say.
- Select responsible people with good job titles.
References usually come into play near the end of the selection process. The number of candidates for the job has been reduced to the final few and now the employer wants reassurance that others think highly of you as well. This is why it is important to be selective about your references. The positive comments they make about who, in every other aspect, is just as qualified.
Talk to each reference and get permission to use his or her name. The best people will be those who can talk about your successes on the job.
Most prospective employers will want to contact former supervisors, so make sure several of these people are on your list. If your most recent supervisor is not included, he or she will probably be contacted anyway. If you had problems working together, this may be a good time to "mend fences" and discuss what positive things might be said.
If you are a professional employee, peer colleagues may be used as references. If you have been a manager, you might want to include a subordinate to give a different perspective. Clergy members and friends may be included as "character references," but their input will not be weighed very heavily. It is best to use three of four people who can talk about your skills, experience and accomplishments.
Preparing a Reference Sheet
Do not list references on your resume. Most prospective employers will ask for references as they get closer to offering you a job. Listing references separately also gives a reason to follow up with employers in which you are particularly interested.
To prepare an effective reference sheet, write down the names of only those individuals who will provide positive, meaningful feedback. Include their name, position, company name, address and phone number. You may include the business relationship to you. Take this sheet to your appointments and interviews.
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